Beautiful, real, raw ….One man’s journey from anger to greater self-love.
In the spring of 2013, a romantic relationship I was in ended. I was in a lot of pain and knew something had to change if I was ever going to experience an authentic, intimate relationship. I realized after the breakup that part of my side of the relationship ending was that I didn’t know how to share my voice effectively when disagreements arose. This has always been hard for me as I don’t like conflict and didn’t like to feel anger. My m/o, which I adopted growing up, was to withdraw when there were difficulties or if I felt like my partner was mad at me or disapproved of me. I actually thought by withdrawing I was keeping the peace!
My parents had modeled a very dysfunctional relationship. Conflict within my family of origin was never pretty and there was always a winner and loser, which really meant no one won as there was a lot of hurt, pain, confusion and separation.
Q. What were some of the aspects of yourself that you judged at the time?
A. I didn’t like anger. To me anger represented an ugly characteristic that wreaked havoc between people and relationships. If someone was angry, it meant somebody did something wrong and there was a price to pay. Blame…somebody did something wrong…someone is not happy with my behavior…something is wrong with me…. shame…. I’m not good enough were the messages triggered by anger.
When I felt angry, I took it to mean there is something still wrong with me. If I was whole and good enough then I shouldn’t get triggered and feel angry.
At the same time, I had this inner conflict about anger because in business I believed I wasn’t as successful as others because I’m too nice. I always have thought of myself a a good person and when I looked at more successful people, I judged them as being pushy, over aggressive, and less ethical.
Q. How did you learn to bring greater love and acceptance to yourself?
A. In the fall of 2013, I heard a webcast about “The Sacred Art of Relationships” presented by Michelle Bersell. The ideas presented in the talk resonated with me and the genuineness and positive energy of the speaker was compelling to want to explore more what she had to offer. Consequently, I signed up for a years journey to look more inward to see what within me was causing a lot of pain in my life and my story that there was a lot of sadness in my life.
Little by little over that year, I was challenged to dive into my negative emotions that seemed to serve no purpose and that I didn’t particularly want to experience. I had always been taught, you shouldn’t feel that way or you should ignore or rise above your negative emotions. It took a while for me to own my anger, as my experience with that emotion was that it was to be avoided like the plague. My experience with anger taught me: Nothing good can come from anger. Anger runs over people and puts people in a place of submission. Anger couldn’t possibly have anything good to contribute to relationships.
Buy slowly over time, with the help of Michelle, I could begin to see that anger was just a signal that something wasn’t right or didn’t feel good. My goal was to listen to its message and then decide how to respond, rather than react like the volcano that anger can be when misused (and which I had had experienced in my family).
I soon discovered that sometimes my anger was meant to show me that I needed to have more compassion on myself and be less judging, especially when things happened that were less than perfect.
Sometimes my anger told me that I wasn’t being treated fairly and I needed to have my back by taking a stand to value myself.
For instance, I had done a lot of work for a client and it didn’t look like I was going to get compensated. Being in sales and strictly on commission, it didn’t look like I was going to get compensated. My former story would be, “I got shit on again” and i was soooooooooooo tired of that line. Therefore, I took a stand, expressed my voice and shared how I was instrumental in helping him get a positive outcome and asked my client for some compensation. He agreed and I was rewarded. The real reward was that I stood up for myself regardless of the outcome.
Q. What is life like now compared to how you were previously living?
A. I’m finally able to embrace the fact that being triggered only means that I’m alive and that there is something more to discover on my path to peace, love and maturity. It doesn’t mean I’m less than or not whole and that some thought, idea or concept needs to explored and mined for understanding or embracing. When anger pops up, instead of it wreaking havoc, it is an energy that can be utilized to empower, facilitate change, and actually draw us closer to others by being more authentic.
I’ve shifted from a story of sadness and lack to realizing there is so much to be grateful for, as I can see the good in life. This has been reflected financially as well, as there is an expectation and knowing that I will be more than taken care of. Even signing up to do this work, I wasn’t sure how I would pay for it but the money came to cover the cost and more (like vacations!).
Overall, the journey has taken me from lack to abundance, from worry to trust, from controlling to acceptance and from judgment to greater love.
Growth is a journey, not a destination and I can finally say I am enjoying the ride!